Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sames and Opposites

Same SameImage by locket479 via Flickr
February 10, 2010
Popular comedian Demetri Martin has a comical song that he calls, “Sames and Opposites.” In this song he says,
  • Earrings are the same as sneezes, two is ok but ten in a row is annoying.
  • I think bears and worms aren’t very similar, till you think of “gummy.”
  • Saying, “I’m sorry” and “I apologize” is the same, unless you are at a funeral.
I got a good lesson in “sames and opposites” a few years ago when I visited Russia. While in Izhevsk, one of the local ministers was my chauffer. His name was Eddie. He said he learned English listening to Beatles’ music. As we drove around the Ural Mountains, we talked about his experiences going to Russian school. I told him that we would practice bomb drills at school by getting under our desks. We were told we had to be prepared in case the Russians would send nuclear warheads to America. He laughed out loud, and then said, “We practiced the same drills … because of Americans.” We both laughed. We realized the irony that while we grew up fearing each other, we were now driving down the road laughing, talking about Beatles music and our faith. Knowing our “opposites,” we were enjoying our “samenesses.”

Barbara Deming remarks, “The longer we listen to one another - with real attention - the more commonality we will find in all our lives. That is, if we are careful to exchange with one another life stories and not simply opinions.”

In the Christian Scriptures we read: “From one blood he created all the nations throughout the whole earth.” (Acts 17:26 NLT) It may be easier to see the differences and the unlikenesses in others. And we are different. We look different, talk differently, and we think differently. But this is a good thing. I believe that being made in the image of God means to treasure the diversity and the sameness between all people.

Sadly, intolerance to these differences has brought the world great pain. I am convinced that along with celebrating the differences, we can value our sameness. This can build bridges rather than walls.

Don't be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. Care about them as much as you care about yourselves (Phil. 2:3-4 CEV)

I am learning that I grow as I value the variety in each person: their form, voice, flaws, personality and dreams. Everyday I enjoy the opportunity to experience diversity as I encounter different people: their languages, rituals, and cultural distinctions – even the different ways we say “Hello.” It is too easy to create distance between us over our differences. That is giving in to our falleness. We hear the kinds of “us-them” language used to divide people. It is too common. The deeper way is to see the profound sameness that we have with all others.

We all share in many important commonalities. One of the sames we share is the cycle of life: birth, growth, death, and perhaps - graduation, marriage, birth of children, and the death of parents and loved ones. Also, we are all members of groups and live in families and communities. We all have a need to belong, to be accepted and to know who we are. We desire meaning and purpose for our lives. We all hope for peace and a better world for our families. All of us are dependent on the same planet for our existence.

This is a lot to appreciate. In respecting other’s sames and opposites, I am challenged to remember that each of us shares the desire to tell our story to a listening ear. We want to be known. This is as God intended it.

Several weeks ago I was talking with an upset person. She was anxious about delay in her surgery because of her pain. When I met her, there were obvious differences between us. But we had one thing in common. I have had surgery for severe back pain. I relate to that pain. That sameness gave me a compassion for her situation. As I later reflected, I was confirmed in the need to see the things I have in common with others. In this situation I was able to more helpful because I was aware the things we had in common. As I listened to her story, I not only saw the valuable differences between us, I saw the rich commonalities. We both love our families, found strength in our faith and desire to be accepted. Both of us had a story … and found a listening ear. And we were both better for it.

“Opposites” and differences are real, but there is so much to learn from the “Sames.” As we recognize and know each other through our sames, we begin to see ourselves as God sees us: persons made in His image.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

1 comment:

Becky said...

Thank you for the reminder that we all share so much in life that is the same. We often get caught up in our differences with a self declaration that there is no way we can find a common ground, oh the pride of it. Again thank you